Flu-Related Deaths Raise Concerns in Michigan
Two Fenton residents have died after experiencing flu-like symptoms this month.
Two recent deaths in Fenton linked to flu-related symptoms have Michigan residents a little more on edge about the illness.
Lake Fenton freshman Joshua Polehna, 15, died Saturday after being hospitalized with flu-like symptoms. Last week, Fenton resident and father of five Kirk Beauchamp, 44, died three days after becoming ill with flu symptoms.
Twenty-nine states, including Michigan, are now reporting high Influeza-like illness activity, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Flu season has hit hard and early this year. As of last week, 285 confirmed cases had been reported statewide, including three pediatric deaths, according to the Detroit Free Press.
"We had some early (outbreak) years in '03 and '07, but this is the earliest I can remember," Bob Swanson, director of the division of immunization at the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) told the Detroit Free Press.
Influenza is a life-threatening disease, especially for the elderly and infants, according to the Oakland County Health Division, which reports there were 18 pediatric deaths nationwide and four in Michigan as of Thursday, Jan. 10.
"Flu can be spread to others up to about six feet away, mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk," the agency says. "Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own eyes, nose or mouth."
The flu usually comes on suddenly and symptoms can include the following, according to the OCHD.
- Fever or chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Health officials have encouraged people to receive a flu shot. Check here to find a list of Plymouth and Canton locations offering the vaccination.